Self-pity is the worst poverty;
it overwhelms man until he sees nothing but illness, trouble and pain.
Bowl of Saki, January 29, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
If one studies one’s surroundings one finds that those who are happy are so because they have less thought of self. If they are unhappy it is because they think of themselves too much. A person is more bearable when he thinks less of himself. And a person is unbearable when he is always thinking of himself. There are many miseries in life, but the greatest misery is self-pity.
Man is mostly selfish, and what interests him is that which concerns his own life. Not knowing the troubles of the lives of others he feels the burden of his own life even more than the burden of the whole world. If only man in his poverty could think that there are others who are poorer than he, in his illness that there are others whose sufferings are perhaps greater than his, in his troubles that there are others whose difficulties are perhaps greater than his! Self-pity is the worst poverty. It overwhelms man and he sees nothing but his own troubles and pains, and it seems to him that he is the most unhappy person in the world, more so than anyone else.
A great thinker of Persia, Sa’di, writes in an account of his life, ‘Once I had no shoes, I had to walk barefoot in the hot sand, and how miserable I was. Then I met a man who was lame, for whom walking was very difficult. I bowed down to heaven at once and offered thanks that I was much better off than he who had not even feet to walk upon.’ This shows that it is not a man’s situation in life, but his attitude towards life that makes him happy or unhappy. …
When Jesus Christ said, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God,’ this teaching was an answer to the cry of humanity: some crying, ‘I have no wealth,’ others crying, ‘I have no rest,’ others crying, ‘My situation in life is difficult,’ My friends are troubling me,’ or, ‘I want a position, wealth.’ The answer to them all is, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.’